Ministry grant aims to create new Ontario climate change projections

ESSE professor Peter Taylor is part of a York team which recently received a grant to improve climate risk assessment in the province.

Huaiping Zhu, professor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, Faculty of Science, and his team have received a grant from the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) to improve climate risk assessments in the province.

The team will be the first in Ontario to consolidate the large number of existing province-specific climate projections into a common set of scenarios.

“Climate data experts and government recently expressed an urgent need for coordinated and easy-to-use projections for climate change in Ontario,” explains Zhu, also director of the Laboratory of Mathematical Parallel Systems at York University. “Given our group’s expertise in mathematical modelling, we were selected to take the lead on this initiative and we’re thankful to the MOECC for supporting this work.”

Zhu’s team members include professors Neal Madras, Xin Qiu, and Peter Taylor; post-doctoral fellow Ziwang Deng; and research associate Xiaolan Zhou.

The team will develop climate projections for the 2050s and 2080s using data from various Canadian and international agencies. They will account for a number of average and extreme variables related to precipitation and temperature and use statistical methods already developed in their lab to consolidate the data.

“Our new projections will enhance climate research and help to inform government planning and policies in Ontario,” says Zhu. “Climate change has so many implications, such as for agriculture and how we build our homes and infrastructure, and having reliable climate predictions will help us plan and adapt appropriately.”

In addition to creating new projections, the team is also working on re-designing their Ontario Climate Change Data Portal to make the data easy to use and access.

Zhu has held funding from the MOECC since 2011. He is regularly consulted by local, Canadian and international governments, agencies, and research teams for his expertise.